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Partner spotlight

Alzheimer's Australia 

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Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia6 and has been identified by the Federal Government as one of Australia's top health priorities.

Alzheimer's Australia and Bupa Health Foundation have been collaborating for a numer of years on a range of dementia-related projects aimed at educating consumers and health and care professionals about the importance of end-of-life care planning for people recently diagnosed with the disease.

"An area of joint concern is that individuals with dementia are able to prepare for death in a manner that gives them control over their care towards the end of their life," explains Dr Paul Bates, Bupa's Chief Medical Officer.

The importance of the issue was highlighted in a 2013 Palliative Care Australia survey that found only 15 per cent of those who died had an advance care plan in place.

Alzheimer's Australia's Dr Ellen Skladzien adds: "Lack of documented end-of-life preferences and confusion around advance care directives are adding to the already considerable distress experienced by people living with dementia, their carers and family members."

"In the case of dementia, early planning and discussion are all the more crucial because as the disease progresses there can be difficult issues around capacity, decision-making and communication."

To assist with end-of-life planning, Alzheimer's Australia and Bupa Health Foundation have recently launched two useful consumer guides, Models of Dementia Care (PDF, 488KB) by Professor Julian Hughes and Wrestling with Dementia and Death (PDF, 440KB) by Professor Jenny Abbey, which synthesise the latest research, policy and regulation on the subject.

"End of life care planning for people with dementia has traditionally been an area for which it is hard to secure funding," says Dr Skladzien, who commends Bupa Health Foundation for its support and understanding of the importance of the issue.

6 Australian Institute of Health & Welfare 2012. Dementia in Australia. Cat No. AGE70. Canberra: AIHW.